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Apr 24 2013

Harrow’s Big London Energy Switch – Not all it’s cracked up to be!

light_bulbHarrow Council has been pushing the Big London Energy Switch scheme recently, in fact, more than 2,200 people in Harrow signed up to the scheme to see if they could save money on their gas and electric bills.

The reverse-auction has now ended, and those who registered will have received the results. However, it seems that the suggested savings aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

Sainsbury’s Energy was the “winner” of the deal, but on an existing tariff (mine, with EDF Energy) of £2,723, the new – and improved? – offer with Sainsburys Energy was actually higher at £2,905. Or to put it another way, 6% more, after the first year discount.

So, we plumbed exactly the same figures into uswitch.com – just to see if it really was the best of those deals out there. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, and, Sainsbury’s, it would seem, are offering an even better deal there. But it’s not the best deal around.

In fact, the best deal (currently, and your offers may vary depending on existing tariff, area, or offers available at the time) is with nPower. However, comparing tariffs is a complicated affair – some may include an elevated rate with a zero “standing charge”, or vice versa, might offer a discount for paperless billing, or include penalty charges at the end of differing minimum contract periods, so you need to take all these into account – which uswitch.com can do for you. A simple comparison of unit price doesn’t give the true picture.

However, comparing the comparisons(!) gives these results:

Source: Big London Energy Switch

Supplier Per Year Difference
Current £2,723.00
Sainsburys £2,905.00 £182.00

Source: uSwitch.com

Supplier Per Year Difference
Current £2,767.51
nPower (best) £2,471.42 -£296.09
Sainsburys £2,549.97 -£217.54

From this brief analysis, it would seem that residents are better off ignoring the Big London Energy Switch scheme, at least, until they’ve done their homework elsewhere. You can just re-use the same figures – and the Big London Energy Switch website will tell you what you entered – to get a comparable comparison.

The scheme does say that only 70% of residents will see a saving – what it doesn’t say is that you may be able to do so much better elsewhere! Now I wonder if the Council makes any kickback on residents who switch via the scheme?

Disclaimer: iharrow.com makes no commissions or other incentives from any of the suppliers mentioned in this article.

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6 comments

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  1. Harrow Resident

    A word of advice – check your DD’s and check your bill.

    I am currently with NPower and noticed that this month they had put my DD up from £174 to £194. I checked my online bill to find out that as from next month they were planning to put it up even further to £220 despite being in credit !

    I phoned them and they took up to date meter readings from me and now my monthly DD is going to be £166 !

    Subsequently I looked at uswitch and they advised me of an even cheaper tariff which would save me £300+ per annum…which company was that with ? Well, it was with NPower !!!

    So beware – check your DD’s and check your bills and look at uswitch as there is probably a cheaper option out there fore you somewhere

  2. iharrow.com on Facebook

    Harrow Resident commented on iharrow.com:

    A word of advice – check your DD’s and check your bill.

    I am currently with NPower and noticed that this month they had put my DD up from £174 to £194….

  3. Linda Robinson

    I am so glad I wasn’t tricked into wasting my time with this unseemly scramble for savings just to make Harrow and other councils look as if they are doing something useful. I learned my lesson before, with the Which? Magazine/38 Degrees campaign. At least that auction was won by the Co-operative, who I wouldn’t hesitate to support on ethical grounds, but with only a small potential saving and the realisation that switching suppliers is not the solution to rising energy costs (it is part of the problem instead), I didn’t switch then and wouldn’t play such a game again. Anyway, bolstering Sainsbury’s profits would be the last thing I’d go for!

    With any luck, this latest exercise will have helped even more people to learn a lesson. My tips are: never use direct debits (then you won’t keep finding unexpected increases and errors to get cross about); check your bills and pay them promptly; take all the steps you can to reduce your energy consumption; and campaign for public utilities to be returned to public ownership.

    So you can see where I’m coming from!

  4. iharrow.com on Facebook

    Linda Robinson commented on iharrow.com:

    I am so glad I wasn’t tricked into wasting my time with this unseemly scramble for savings just to make Harrow and other councils look as if they are doing something useful….

  5. Cllr Willy Stoodley

    I’ve been waiting 13 months for NPower to pay me the £68 they’ve owed me since I sold my flat and I STILL havn’t received it yet… bastards. I’ll use log fires and calor gas if they become the only energy supplier.

  6. iharrow.com on Facebook

    Cllr Willy Stoodley commented on iharrow.com:

    I’ve been waiting 13 months for NPower to pay me the £68 they’ve owed me since I sold my flat and I STILL havn’t received it yet… bastards….

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